TeachSD: Teens Enhancing Adult Capacity at Home in South Dakota Back »

This article was written collaboratively by Leacey Brown and Kathryn Reeves (former SDSU Extension 4-H Science Field Specialist).


Executive Summary

  • Educational Goals: Teens Enhancing Adult Capacity at Home in South Dakota (TeachSD) is an innovative intergenerational technology training program designed to use existing community resources to deliver a low cost method of increasing adult knowledge, confidence, and skills using the internet to access resources, connect with family and friends, and maintain independence as they age. In conjunction, youth participants will have the opportunity to gain a positive perception of older people, knowledge of aging process, and skills and comfort in working with people with disabilities.
  • Program Justification: The number of adults living to an advanced age is on the rise. Approximately one third of adults over the age of 50 in South Dakota do not use the internet. Technology is a tool that can help people remain in their home for a longer and safer period of time. In addition, there is projected to be a shortage of health care workers. Research suggests that youth who spend time interacting with older adults are more likely to enter professions serving older adults.
  • Target Audience: Adults over the age of 50, and youth ages 14 to 24 years.
  • Public and Private Value: Adults who are competent using technology and the internet are better equipped to maintain their independence in their home and community as they age, potentially freeing up more public dollars to be used in other sectors of the economy. In addition, encouraging youth to enter professions that serve older adults will help to ensure the professionals needed to care for an aging population are available in South Dakota.
  • Program Delivery: SDSU Extension Field Specialists will serve as the program developers, trainers, and administrators, leaving the day-to-day operation of the program in the hands of volunteers and community partners. Adults, also referred to as Adult Learners, will be receiving the technology training. Youth are program participants who mentor the adults in technology skill development and will be called  Technology Trainers. Community Partners will provide the training space, technology, and wi-fi. In addition, they will raising awareness about availability of training sessions and report any personnel issues to SDSU Extension staff. Prior to working with any Adult Learner,  Technology Trainers will participate in a 3 hour TeachSD Technology Trainer Seminar led by SDSU Extension Field Specialist.
  • Resources Needed: a) evaluation plan, b) marketing materials, c) access to technology and the internet, d) aging/disability awareness training kit, e) meals for youth training seminar, f) printing budget, g) volunteers, and h) training sites.

Key Contacts: Leacey E. Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist and Kathryn Reeves, (former SDSU Extension 4-H Science Field Specialist)

Private and Public Value

We are living in an era when the number of adults over the age of 65 is expected to increase dramatically. According to Brown, McCurry, Oscarson, and Schlechter (4), nearly 1 in every 4 people in South Dakota is projected to be over the age of 65 by the year 2035. By focusing on the 50+ and youth (14-24) age groups, TeachSD will benefit the public in two important ways. First, there is projected to be a shortage of health care workers including nurses and physicians. Gonçalves (8) suggested negative stereotypes about aging and older adults discourage students from entering professions related to aging such as health care. To shift youth attitudes, Gonçalves (8) suggested a combination about knowledge based training and interactions with older people to increase the chance they will enter health care careers. More youth entering health care professions would benefit the people of South Dakota as there will be more people who have the necessary skills to care for an aging population. Secondly, the people of South Dakota have expressed a desire to remain in their homes as the age. This is not only beneficial to the individual's quality of life, but benefits the people of South Dakota. People who are proficient and confident in their ability to use technology may be able to remain in their homes longer as they will be able to access goods and services (e.g. home delivered groceries or telehealth) and stay connected with friends and loved ones. A significant amount of public monies are used to fund nursing homes. More people living at home may free up public dollars to be used in other sectors of the economy.

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